Depression in Young Adults
Feelings of stress, anger and sadness are not uncommon, especially in young adults. Learning true independence for the first time can be difficult and sometimes overwhelming. For most, these negative feelings subside with time. However, if these feelings are consistent for two weeks or more, you could have depression.
What Is Depression?
Depression is a significantly common mental illness among college students. It goes beyond feelings of intense stress and sadness, affecting day-to-day routines, attitudes, work performance, home life and relationships. Left untreated, depression can cause severe — and sometimes fatal — consequences.
According to Mental Health America, rates of depression among youth increased from 8.5 percent in 2011 to 11.1 percent in 2014. More than half of adults who suffer from depression or another mental illness go without proper treatment, if they’re treated at all. Instead, many attempt to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol for temporary relief. This brief escape has a tendency to spiral into drug dependency.
Some of the most common signs of depression include:
- Decrease in energy
- Memory loss
- Suicidal thoughts
- Disinterest in hobbies or activities that once brought happiness
- Change in peer groups or social withdrawal
- Low self-esteem
- Aggression or ongoing irritability
- Feelings of inadequacy or guilt
It is important to note that although these signs are a reflection of mental illness, they can also be signs of normal behavior. If you’re concerned about a friend or loved one, consult a physician or mental health professional for a diagnosis.
A dual diagnosis occurs when a person has depression and substance use disorder at the same time. Either co-occurring disorder could have manifested first, but each condition can fuel the other.
For example, people with depression often seek alcohol or other substances to escape from the lows they feel. The relief is temporary, though, and the need to feel better intensifies. As a result, people with depression may become dependent on external highs from drugs or alcohol to distract them from their illness.
Addiction can also lead to depression. Alcohol and some other drugs are classified as depressants or “downers” because they reduce brain stimulation. In high doses, these substances can cause a state of extreme relaxation or euphoria. In excess, they can have negative effects on a person’s mood, behaviors and reactions.
Combined, depression and substance abuse disorders can lead to dangerous and sometimes fatal consequences. Those suffering from co-occurring disorders should not battle their diseases alone. Recovery can be difficult, but there are ample resources available to support treatment. Experts recommend treating both disorders simultaneously for the greatest chance of success.
Treatment for Clinical Depression
Treatment for depression can vary from patient to patient depending on the severity of the disorder. Sometimes treatment can include exercising or diet changes. In other cases, medications help balance mood and behaviors. Behavioral therapy is also a common treatment for depression and co-occurring disorders. Therapy can help people understand why they feel the need to self-medicate while also helping them change the ways they think and interpret their life.
Recovering from depression can be difficult, but you do not have to combat the illness alone. With help from rehabilitation facilities, people with depression have the support and resources needed to overcome this disorder.
Mental Health America. (2017). The State of Mental Health in America. Retrieved from http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/issues/state-mental-health-america
National Institute of Mental Health. (2012). Depression and College Students. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression-and-college-students/index.shtml
Kiara Anthony regularly contributes to DrugRehab.com, along with other publications. She earned her undergraduate degree in Mass Communications from Towson University and her graduate degree in Communications from Trinity Washington University.